I am anxiously awaiting the postman. It occurs to me that musicians probably do this even more than most when they order something online- a score, some new gadget to improve our instrument, some recorded music.
I am hoping that today the postman will bring Denovali's rerelease of my band Piano Interrupted's debut album, Two by Four on double LP. Each disc of this double LP will be 180 grams in weight and will come in both the standard black and the even-more-exciting white vinyl.
In our aggressively digital age, vinyl is enjoying a welcome resurgence. I had a chat to three of my musical friends about the enduring appeal of vinyl: pianist and composer Nils Frahm, electronica and techno producer Max Cooper and Denovali record boss Timo Alterauge.
Vinyl is, for artists and listeners alike, a stamp of quality. Anyone can generate an mp3 now- there are so many easy-to-use programmes like ProTools, Logic, Ableton (all of them significantly harder to use well admittedly) out there for would-be music-makers. Even a free app on a smart phone will generate an mp3 for you. Pressing a vinyl however, is a very different matter.
A vinyl including all its packaging is an object of art- the antithesis to a digital file on a computer, or an mp3 on iTunes. As Nils puts it, "It is a great way for the artist to express their uniqueness" and for the owner a "fantastic feeling when they smell and feel that thing!" For Timo, "vinyl better underlines the significance and value of the music than a pack of data on a hard drive."
Max points to this stamp-of-quality effect being borne out at public events too.
"There seems to be a positive correlation between how much vinyl is being played at given events around the world, and how good those events are. Maybe it's just because it's fashionable to play vinyl and fashion is associated with quality, or maybe it's that the older more experienced, higher quality acts are still using the tools they're familiar with."
I am writing this blog on my laptop. I am not in my studio and so my monitor speakers are not plugged in. I confess I have no headphones to hand either. If anyone sends me some music today via mp3, it will get listened to through my laptop speakers. It has happened a couple of times already and well, it doesn't sound pretty. Fortunately this is not the norm for me, but it is for many.
Nils neatly describes listening to vinyl as the promotion of an "active music listening culture." It involves looking after the record, the player, the needle, a bit of dusting perhaps, turning the record over every twenty minutes or so- all of this makes for a much more engaging process. Although it is perfectly possible, you don't tend to plug your record player into your laptop.
And everyone agreed that vinyl just sounds better. "By bypassing the digital world, you'll experience dynamic, depth in sound and dimension in music like on no other media, with an exception of high quality master tape." (Nils Frahm)
I saw the other day that the new Daft Punk single Get Lucky had broken all the streaming records for its release day on Spotify. But really, can this be future? Many of us hope not. Royalty streams from services such as Spotify and YouTube are for another blog, but what we can say though is by buying a vinyl, there is a greater chance that a good portion of the money a music-lover spends goes back to the artist.
"It's surely a niche product - but it always will have enough fans to survive. The younger generation still shows interest and there's currently rather a growing fan base - so it's definitely not just a format for old conservative listeners." (Timo Alterauge)
In fact the conservative format is now the CD and whether the CD will survive is another question. But the forward-looking vinyl surely will. Max sums it up nicely for the artist: "I see vinyl as an important outlet for my music if I want to get it heard by the people I most want to hear it."
And now while I am waiting, I'll open Spotify on my laptop and catch up on that new Daft Punk single. I know it's not going to sound great though. However when the postman finally arrives, my vinyl surely will.